Use It or Lose It.” That applies to so many aspects of our lives.

I came face to face with that fact when I was prevented from exercising for close to 5-6 months. The first 3 months – from doing almost anything. The next 2-3 months from being super cautious.

Now they are telling me – I also got stupider. Check out this article entitled
Use it or lose it: Study shows that stopping exercise decreases brain blood flow.

Dr. J. Carson Smith, associate professor of kinesiology and lead author of the study, which is published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience in August 2016. “In rodents, the hippocampus responds to exercise training by increasing the growth of new blood vessels and new neurons, and in older people, exercise can help protect the hippocampus from shrinking. So, it is significant that people who stopped exercising for only 10 days showed a decrease in in brain regions that are important for maintaining brain health.”

Unlike me – the study used Master Athletes, “defined as people between the ages of 50 and 80 (average age was 61) who have at least 15 years history of participating in and who have recently competed in an endurance event.”

At least in this highly selective group “if you do stop exercising for 10 days, just as you will quickly lose your cardiovascular fitness, you will also experience a decrease in blood brain flow.”

I do not doubt that exercise helps keep our bodies – including our brains in top condition. I also do not doubt that individuals who are dependent upon (addicted to) high intensity exercise show a significant loss when they stop for even 10 days.

Their must have entailed at least four hours of high intensity endurance training each week. On average, they were running ~36 miles (59 km) each week or the equivalent of a 10K run a day!

What I would be more interested in knowing is the impact on the rest of us. How much of what kind of exercise do we need to do to keep our brains functioning? 

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